Eden Village's 3D Printed Homes

A third Eden Village of homes will be built this spring using 3D concrete printers housed at Drury University.

By Susan Atteberry Smith

Mar 2024

3d printer
Photo by Traci Sooter, FAIAThe next Eden Village homes 3D-printed concrete construction, as seen here.

The Problem

More than a decade ago, volunteers David and Linda Brown realized that a growing number of unsheltered people had no place to go after their downtown Springfield drop-in center, The Gathering Tree, closed for the night.  

The Big Idea 

The solution: A community of homes built for people who had been unsheltered for at least a year. With 30 400-square-foot homes, each renting for $325 a month and requiring no deposits or utility payments, The Gathering Tree’s first Eden Village opened in 2018 at 2801 E. Division Street. A second community of 24 tiny homes opened two years later at 3155 W. Brower Street

The Learning Curve 

As a third Eden Village was planned on High Street, construction costs soared. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, each furnished wood-frame home cost The Gathering Tree about $40,000, Chief Visionary Officer at Eden Village, Nate Schlueter says; today, the same house would cost at least $58,000. How 3D concrete printers might manufacture homes less expensively—and more quickly—had already been a topic of conversation. When a generous donor stepped up, Schlueter says, the nonprofit decided not to wait, purchasing two printers for about $1.6 million. They’re housed at Drury University, where Hammons School of Architecture Professor Traci Sooter’s fourth-year architecture students are refining her duplex design—complete with front porches and able to withstand an F5 tornado. Construction starts this spring and will have the capability to print an entire duplex in a day.

The Takeaway

At the Gathering Tree, surrounding themselves with architecture, engineering and construction experts helps staff understand the possibilities of 3D concrete printing. “It allows us to address this catastrophe in our community with the same amount of efficiency we would address a natural disaster,” he says.

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